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How well do you know your aging clients?

Mar 19, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Kathleen Pritchard

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Aging has a wonderful beauty and we should have respect for that. -- Eartha Kitt

It seems there are a lot of misguided assumptions when it comes to the impact of aging and the quality of life enjoyed by senior citizens. Contrary to what some might believe, older adults consider themselves to be of sound mind and body, can be taught new tricks, are not likely to suffer from dementia even in their advanced years, and are frequently in the company of friends and loved ones. Working in partnership with The Center for Innovative Care in Aging at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, we have identified common myths about aging and dispel those myths with the realities every advisor needs to know in order to better understand and serve their clients approaching their senior years.

Myth: Dementia is an inevitable part of aging.

Reality: Dementia is a progressively degenerative disease and is not a normal part of aging. While age is the most significant risk factor, it is not an inevitable part of aging. Approximately 13% of adults age 65 years and older have Alzheimer's or another form of dementia and about 45% of those age 85 years and older have some dementia symptoms.

Related Item: Download "Aging and its financial implications: planning for housing", a new whitepaper by Legg Mason in collaboration with The Center for Innovative Care in Aging

Myth: Older adults are in poor health.

Reality More than 76% of older adults describe themselves as being in good, very good or excellent health despite having an average of two or more chronic conditions.

Myth: Older adults are more likely to become clinically depressed.

Reality: Most older adults are not depressed. Depression is not a normal part of growing old, but rather an illness that needs to be treated.

Myth: Older adults become more rigid in their thinking and are unable to learn or change.

Reality: Learning patterns do change with age and it may take a bit longer to learn something new. However, older adults do not become more rigid, and the basic capacity to learn is retained.

Myth: Most older adults end up in nursing homes.

Reality: Only about 4% of older adults are living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. An additional 2% live in community housing that has services for older adults. About 75% of older Americans never live in a nursing home.

Myth: Most older adults live in poverty.

Reality: Only 9% of older adults live in poverty (less than 100% of the federal poverty threshold). An additional 26% of older adults are considered low income.

Myth: Falling is normal with advanced age.

Reality: Almost one-third of older adults experience a fall every year. However, falling is not a normal part of aging. Falls can be minimized by addressing risk factors such as removing tripping hazards in the home, monitoring medications, and enhancing balance and mobility.

Related Item: Download "Aging clients and their families", a new whitepaper by Legg Mason in collaboration with The Center for Innovative Care in Aging

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Myth: Older adults are alone or lonely – they have been abandoned by their families.

Reality: While the number of casual friends may decrease as a person ages, the number of close friends remains stable throughout one's life. 80% of parents over the age of 65 see adult children every one to two weeks. 75% of grandparents see their grandchildren every one to two weeks.

What does all of this mean for you and your clients? It means that your clients will have important decisions to make about how and where they want to age. You can help them take and maintain control by expanding your discussions with them today. They will need your assistance with a comprehensive financial plan that supports the housing option(s) they select for their future. When you broach the topic of aging, you demonstrate that you care about their well-being and want to help them determine appropriate solutions for living out their later years in life. You also open the door to potential opportunities for your practice such as creating additional revenue (e.g., income portfolios, annuities, long-term care insurance), building a bridge to the next generation by being a resource to your clients and their families, and generating referrals (since no one is talking about this!). Don't miss out on solidifying your client relationships and getting ahead of a timely topic for discussion.

Click here to register for the on-demand Legg Mason webcast "Aging: The Most Important Conversation You're NOT Having With Your Clients". Learn even more as Kathleen Pritchard dives into exclusive findings about aging and housing; sign up today!

Kathleen Pritchard is a Managing Director and the Head of Advisor Business Development at Legg Mason Global Asset Management. This article is part of a sponsored series, 'The crisis facing your aging clients', which includes a full client-approved brochure/workbook, worksheets, a whitepaper outlining recent research and resources for advisors to leverage to discuss the financial implications of aging directly with their clients.

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. Legg Mason is not affiliated with InvestmentNews, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing or their Center for Innovative Care in Aging. © 2014 Legg Mason Investor Services, LLC is a subsidiary of Legg Mason, Inc. FN1410951

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